Toni Morrison, considered as one of the best American writers, popped in my mind while reading it. Most of her works deal with slavery , discrimination against Blacks, both men and women. Most of them also have scenes about rape, inhumane treatment, degradation- something that breaks my heart and gets my dander up at the point I run into those parts.Like Toni Morrison’s writing style, Soumyadeep Koley‘s in his debut is “stripped naked”, audacious, full of beautiful and inspiring snippets and thus engaging and compelling. In other words, it can be a candidate for an eye-opening book that can make a difference , not only to India but also to all nations.
Meet Maya, the protagonist, young, ambitious, a daughter of a farmer, but debased by her father as a burden to society. Because of the near rape incident, her father will marry her off to a man older than her. But she will resist;instead, she will come to an agreement with the man’s father by letting her be educated first. All she wants is to learn how to speak English and read a thick English book. Not satisfied, she wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but her husband-to- be, along with his father, will disagree and insult her.Because of Maya’s full resistance and determination, the man will gang-rape her resulting in her family’s total humiliation and catastrophe. Her father will die after his attempt to kill her , and her mother will be sent to jail. To get out of the prejudice, she will venture out in Mumbai where her life will be more miserable; she will be raped for the second time and forced into prostitution. Also, there, she will have the chance to prove her ability to keep up with men in terms of job. However, since men are superior and women are nothing , she will not get ahead in her dreams. Instead, she will fall short…Her story goes on with more and more miseries, and I can’t stand telling them any longer. You read it.
The highlights of the novel are its horrendous rape scenes, prostitution, the protagonist’s brave face off with police and her failures to get her dreams, and beautiful snippets. So, hold yourself and take a deep breathe. You might not stand it as you keep on turning the next pages.
The title of the novel perfectly goes with the real concept of the story: Her Resurrection: A Survivor’s Journey of Emancipation, Reclamation and Redemption , since it apparently paints a portrait of feminism . Women are still culturally considered lower, decorations, slaves in India’s social class. Women or girls who are fully aware of their social position muster up enough courage to break this wall of rotten culture. They make point of surviving the world they don’t belong to by standing up to it despite the travails they can go through. In the end, like Blacks during slavery period in America, they will shed blood , endure,suffer until they achieve the desired freedom without discrimination, degradation, prejudice, ostracism, and so on.
The story makes much of rape and prostitution which the author must want to point out that men deluded into virility or sense of masculinity use such destructive weapon to inflict upon defenseless women- something realistic and must be addressed even up to this day , not just by conservative but also modernly free nations.
To make the heart-wrenching story somehow soothing, the novel is also embellished with literary elements such as photography , psychiatry, and psychology which reflect the author’s educational and work background, and I don’t think they undermine the foundation of the story. In addition , Koely’s prose and quotes are absorbing. If it were not his beautiful sentences, the story would be wincing.
Here are my favorite quotes :
“Since my childhood, I’ve always dreamed to be a soldier. As I grew up and stepped into the twenty-first century, I came to realize that India needs more soldiers not to go to war, but to support the pivotal battle of the nation- to fight for women who have been debased and devolved by patriarchy and misogyny, since time immemorial, in order to reclaim the rights that have always been rightfully theirs.”
“Reality is very hard. Life is harder. It should be worked upon, not dreamt. Dreams should have a place in your mind only in the night, not after you wake up.”
“Time can change everything- from kings to paupers, from settlers to drifters, from lovers to strangers, and from girls to ragdolls.”
“Life is the sum of the choices you make. There’s nothing called destiny, neither anything is written It is the difference between a small ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”
“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Don’t let your past define your future.”
“Some things in life are priceless. They can never be repaid off or repaid with.”
This is a novel we should give a round of thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Heed me folks! You read it. I am sure, you can’t bring yourself to proceed to another heart-wrenching parts and end up liking it a whole lot. Then, you will act like a child pulling your friends’, publishers’ , or writers’ crumpled hems to draw their attention to it. He can be a promising writer. I bet my boots.
Congratulations to Mr. Soumyadeep Koley on his debut novel! 🙂
My Facebook wall has still been inundated with a spate of heart-warming greetings from my families, friends , and the people I am acquainted with since Tuesday ,reminding me of that it is now my 30th years of existence in this complicated world.Gee, I am now in another passage of rite where every aspect of life may be beyond control. Thus, aside from the fact that it is the time when I have to consider my health, career, and marriage life- if the universe conspires with me – I look forward to reading more books that are more meaningful, more life-transforming.
Ever since I was such a simpleton, it was typical of me to to be observed in the corner of the living room burying myself in pieces of paper people might have found academical. If only they knew. I would read any books at my disposal: textbooks, old newspapers, brochures, magazines, notebooks disposed of by a student, bibles- anything I could read. But I never had a good chance of reading the literary books every child must read such as Hans Christian Andersen ‘s fairy tales, Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s Anne of Green Gables, Alexandre Dumas‘ The Three Musketeers , Shel Silverstein‘sThe Giving Tree, Rudyard Kipling‘s The Jungle Book, to name a few. Nor was I brought along to a book store where I could have been encouraged to choose ones I would have loved to read. Our life at that point was still a hand to the mouth.
My 20’s was the stage of my life when I took the chance to read the books I could afford. I have got a job which gives me access to this epistemological obsession given the fact that my profession is paid peanuts. Thanks to book stores selling second-hand books. Besides, my enormous enthusiasm for books has groomed me to be a trying-hard literary critic. I have discovered some famous writers I wish to have known when I was still very young, whose works have shaken the world history.At the same time, I wound up in some book club sites where I have met many book monsters like me who give me ideas of how to write, of how to mold the potentials I had been shrouding in the darkest nooks of my unconsciousness
In my 30’s, I look ahead to having crossed out all the books in the 1001-best-books-you-must-read-before-you-die list suggested by an online magazine, The Guardian before making the transition to mid-life crisis. Click here for the list. I fancy having aged out of this life period like a well-read person, young at heart. At that time, I would be such a consummate book bore you might turn your back on. In addition, I will try to be well-versed in other major forms of literary genre I have not explored yet such as academics since there are many things in the world I want to know more, poetry since I want to write a ala Lang Leavpoems you might wince at, dramas since I could be a masquerader, commentaries since I am a social activist, and what not.
Also, in my 30’s ,I hope I will be able to keep this blog updated, available till kingdom come . I will try to be more dedicated to and enthusiastic about writing and sharing all my idiosyncratic and hyperbolic ideas. Most importantly, I hope I will be able to accomplish my own masterpieces , somehow as critically acclaimed as an immortal writer’s. I am an ambitious frog. Fancy that!
For the meantime, another special friend of mine sent her love with a book gift. It is Will in the World.
A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.
Also, I was deeply touched by a special letter from my Korean student. This is one of the best letters I have received thus far.
People say that life is the thing , but I prefer reading. – Logan Pearsall Smith-
I am sure that one of the things a bookworm would love to receive on his/ her birthday is a book. What else ? He/she is a full-time reader, a book lover, or a bibliophile, whatever names or slang you can make up , all he/ she wants on any special occasions is a book. So, although a few days off before my 30th birthday, a special friend of mine has already sent me her love with an advanced gift recently. It is another work by Henri Nouwen– In My Words compiled by Robert Durback.
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 5th 2001 by Liguori Publications
This is a thematic collection of memorable writings of Henri Nouwen inviting readers to share spiritual intimacy with this popular writer about prayer, depression, friendship, peace, and other topics. His works connect to or touch the lives of people in a language they can understand, and lead them to places where they need to be. Henri J. M. Nouwen, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who died in 1996, was one of this century’s most popular spiritual writers. His accounts of his experiences as a leader in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s and in the antinuclear movement are models of balance between the political and personal aspects of Christian faith.
Nenri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian.He had deep passion for psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. In fact, he authored 4o books on spiritual life.
He caught the attention of the world for his working with mentally and physically handicapped people at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond HIll, Ontario.
As far as I remember , I learned of Henri Nouwen when my Korean nun student brought him up in our class and told me that she wanted to follow him. Thereafter, I started to be obsessed with his works, curious about his strong passions for others, how the man made a difference to her. At that time, I was still religiously bothered and agitated as how I looked up to Thomas Merton a lot. So, I had access to one of his works when one of my other nun students lent me the Aging: The Fulfillment of Life. You can read my simple review here .
Given the fact that I am now an advocate atheist, reading such a book still piques my interest, especially I find Henri Nouwen an influential person, a la Thomas Merton or Mother Theresa. Besides, I love reading people’s works which give a profound impact upon the world .
Thanks Sister Clara. 🙂
I wonder what is the next gift someone will give me. 🙂
Maybe, among the book fairs, The Manila International Book Fair is the only one I really can’t wait for . This special event is considered as a godsend to us book lovers because, aside from the fact that it has many booths of books you can drop into, you can have the opportunity to meet and greet some famous Filipino authors who will be launching their new books. As a matter of fact, one of them I would love to meet is Edgar Calabia Samar, famous for his award-winning novel Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog. He will be launching his book three for Si Janus Sílang at ang Tiyanak ng Tábon and Si Janus Sílang at ang Labanáng Manananggal-Mambabarang. Also, I hope to stumble upon one of my favorite Filipino children book writers, Genaro Gojo Cruz.
By the same token, you may have the chance to make new friends as well as meet your invisible friends you hold a conversation with in the social media like Goodreads. Let’s see. 🙂
The Manila International Book Fair is usually held in September yearly. It is considered as the country’s biggest and longest-running book fair. It exhibits various large collection of literature from fiction and nonfiction best-sellers, to academic books, to graphic novels, and so on.
For more information , visit its website here , or its FB fanpage here
So, book lovers, you still have time to scrimp and save to buy all the books you might grab there. See you there. 🙂
It’s an “illness” or a “disease” among us readers, if you belong to us , that we read the book first before we watch its movie adaptation. We make sure that we are familiar with all the angles of the story: the plots, the characters, the settings, and even the scenes that we are supposed to catch a glimpse of. However, there are times that we tend to be disappointed with the movie because it turns out to be the other way around. It plays down to the details that we cannot get over and give us deeper impression. This way of movie adaptation bears resemblance to Jojo Moyes’s best-selling novel Me Before You.
The main problem with the movie , along with some movies I have watched, is that they do not include the other details. In other words, some important parts of the story are highlighted since a movie should usually play within one and a half hour – a big challenge for all the productions of the movie. So what happens is that it appears to be a “quickie”. Meaning to say , just create one how much effort one could put in. Unfortunately, this shortcoming is conspicuous in the movie. I wonder if its director is aware of that movie snobs nowadays are cynical since movies are now more easily accessible in the internet.
Lately, I reviewed the book and was generously gave it 4 out of 5 stars despite that I did not find the book romantic as what the author may have intended to be. Rather, I was impressed by Jojo Moyes’s ingenious writing skills and by how she adulterated the idea on euthanasia with the main character’s realistic life dramas. Read my review here.
However, I did not find in the movie the good points I found in the book. I had expected that the movie would give importance to the deeper friendship burgeoned between Lou Clark and Will Traynor. That is why I loved this book. In addition, Lou Clark’s sense of humor which later changed Will Traynor’s somber mood is not underpinned. I missed their punch lines which somehow made me rolling in the aisles and tearfully remember Mary Lennox-and-Colin Craven scene in the Secret Garden . Somehow, Emilia Clarke was able to characterize Lou. She is able to depict Lou’s weird and funny getups and clumsiness. One more thing is the unforgettable scenes in Mauritius, especially the bed scene when both of them were watching the storm coming into existence. It is a dry scene for me. There is no excitement as what happened in the book.
Another part that I was not satisfied with is Will Traynor’s feelings that Jojo Moyes may have wanted us to be overcome with. Will in the book is sober and antipathetic. However, I could not feel it in the movie , except the fact that I was quite impressed by the actor Sam Claflin‘s knack for feigning a quadriplegic patient. Besides, Jojo Moyes’s descriptions of his physical exquisiteness leaves nothing to my imagination more than the movie does, as you know, we are living in a censored world. Furthermore, the movie did not strongly do justice to Will’s determination to put an end to his miserable life, of which I was not convinced in the book.
I would say that the book’s ending had a greater impact upon me than the movie’s . I didn’t like the scenes where Lou had to have a falling out with her parents to support Will’s doggone desire to die in Switzerland. Besides, the part where Lou reads Will’s letter at a coffee shop in Paris is not as heart-breaking as in the book. Its ambiance doesn’t give an implication of bereavement moment.
The only thing that had a quite profound impact on me is Will Traynor’s parents’ compassionate empathy for him.In the book, both of them are aloof and emotionally restrained.
I may not be a movie snob nor a film graduate, but I take an exception to a movie based on my expectation. If I find a book superb, I figure on its movie adaptation to be a whole lot better. But if the movie is awfully bad, I expect its movie to be stupendous. Hence, woe betide you. Do not take me seriously. I am just subjective.
It’s the wee early hours in the morning. I fell asleep . I heard the cock living next to our house stentorianly crowing to the world, saw the sun streak of the breaking dawn through the fissures of our roof pillars, made of poor plywood. I forgot that I pulled an all-nighter; I had to prepare for another bloody exams in school. I had to get higher grades from the two subjects I nearly flunked last mid-term test. I didn’t want to keep behind my smart-alec classmates. Besides, I had to study harder; I wanted to be on the dean’s list or more than that. I was so driven to do so since it was not that easy to save money for the next semester, especially both my parents worked so hard.
I left my room for the kitchen which is not just far from me. My room is just one place I share with my younger sister with wooden partition. I greeted my mother who was still lying in her bed while brushing my teeth.
“ Ma, I’m going to school now.”
My mother did not reply. She must have been sound asleep. I could peripherally see her half body inside the mosquito net. She had to cover herself for the sake of our two-year-old born sister who was also sound asleep with angelic face, next to her. I wonder what they were dreaming about. My father was sprawling across from her, passed-out, dead to the world, full of the alcoholic spirit that rendered him unconscious of my presence in the kitchen.
I skipped breakfast since I knew there was nothing mother would fix for me. I would just sip a cup of coffee despite my buzzing stomach. I would not care about it; I am inured to this misery. I would eat whatever was prepared on the table.Sometimes,I would subsist on my small allowance. As long as possible,I would tide it over because I didn’t want be such a burden to my parents. It broke my heart seeing them,particularly my mother preoccupied, absent-minded,or sometimes catching her crying alone at night when everyone was asleep already.
Since I was in a hurry, I did not mind my creased all-white uniform. We did not have a flat iron. Sometimes, we would borrow one from Ate Ning, one of my mother’s closest friends. Sometimes, I dislike her being a bigmouth toward her two children. Her roaring bawl could be heard in the neighborhood.
When we forgot to return her flat iron, we could no longer borrow it out of shame. One time, I could not bring myself to go to school because my uniform was so crumpled that I was very conscious of it since everyone could be nitpicky. So I tried to experiment by filling a bottle with hot water ; then, I rolled it over the clothe. Unfortunately, it could flatten the spots like the big ones seen up on the moon. I had no choice. I wore it with aplomb. I knew my mother had a pity on me.
I was so excited to go home because our last class was dismissed early. Since it was the final term, I had nothing to keep up with. Besides, I prefer to review at home than in the school library. I could find solace in the house , especially the presence of my mother bringing up our younger sister soothes me. My father was somehow busy with his job at my uncle’s mini-factory.
As usual , it has been my habit to buy a ‘pasalubong’ for both my younger sister and Mother. Sometimes, I buy two pieces of turon, Mother’s favorite, or purplish ube when no one sells it . If I guess that she’s tired of them, I buy two pieces of hamburgers. Anything I can get, mother would eat them. Nothing can describe my happiness whenever I see my mother smile in joy at something at my hand for her.
I decided to buy two pieces of turon again. I know it is her all-time favorite. Thanks to Aling Lucy; nothing beats her big and savory turon. Its wrapper is brittle, coated in brown sugar. But its banana slice with jack fruit adds to the heavenly taste.
When I got home on foot, Mikaela had arrived from her work already. She is working for a meat processing company. It saddens me that my parents are not even able to send her to college. So she has no choice.
“ Oh, Reggie. What is that?”, as she noticed something in my hand.
“ Some turon for mother and Mae”, as I put them on the table, “ Where are they?”
Mikaela was just quiet, confused. Her eyes popped out at my question.
“ Don’t eat them, OK? “ Don’t be PG as in patay-gutom.”
Mikael and I are almost close. We can banter with this kind of barbaric language. I felt that Mikaela wanted to blurt out something, but I skipped out on her because suddenly, I was conscious of myself. I had to change myself right away ; I smelled so disgusting; I was soaked in sweat after walking in the scorching sun. No wonder my skin is burning brown.
I decided not to call for both Mother and Mae. They must have been at someone’s house. I was sure Mae wanted to be comforted by the people she is familiar with. It is a matter of object permanence as I learned in psychology.
I stayed in my bed strewn with books , notebooks , and colorful highlighters. I had to review.We would have the last final term after that day.Actually, I did not have to worry about that because I found PGNC and Economics easy to commit to my memory. As far as my classmates are concerned, they know me as the “Father of Rote Memory”.
I leaned against the wall by the window so that I could be freshened up with the afternoon breeze although this air comes from our greedy neighbor’s pigsty. We, along with our neighbors, have been complaining about that putrid pig smell since we moved in our place. The owners just turn deaf to us. Despite that, I tried to stuff my mnemonic memory with all the key words until I dropped off to sleep.
I woke up to the sound coming from the kitchen. That must have been my mother. She must have been busy cooking something. Mae must have been playing. I heard her babyish voice from the living room. Whenever mother was busy, she would let Mae on the ground cluttered with her toys , gliding , talking to herself or her toys giving them new life to play with.
I stayed in my bed staring at the rusted roof which we have never thought of covering with wooden ceiling. I closed my eyes and was pleased with the busy sounds echoing around the house. It was like a lullaby that I wanted to sleep through. Maybe it’s better not to have the roof covered with wooden ceiling. It creates echoes whenever the people make happy noises . I just can’t stand the noise echoed around made by the nerve-wracking dispute between Mother and Father or between Father and John.
I came back to my senses when I heard Mae wailing. I got up and hurled out of my room to catch her. I reached for her in my arms trying to comfort her.
“ Why Mae?”, as I was trying to hush her , “ Hush,now. What’s the problem?”
Mikaela came down , surprised at what was going on.
“Where is Mother?” “ I heard her doing something in the kitchen”, I asked.
Mikaela was trying to hold herself. I did not understand why her eyes welling up about to burst into tears.
“ You should not let Mae play alone.”
As I said it, father came from his work. He looked bedraggled and exhausted. He may have gotten home to call it the day and been ready for lunch.
“What happened?” as he was reaching for Mae.
“ Suddenly I awoke to her crying.” “ Where is mother?” “ I heard her cooking in the kitchen while she was playing on the ground here.”
Father wanted to get Mae from me, but I refused because he had not changed himself yet. I was trying to calm Mae, “ Hush, baby” , “ Mother is coming.”
I looked back at both my father and sister . They looked gloomy, trying to hide their faces from me. I could not understand. I was bewildered.
Father sat himself on the wooden bench he made last year, quiet, staring into space . What was he thinking?
Mikaela decided to leave us , fluttering as if she was trying to wend her way through the door. Suddenly, John turned up, entering past her .Mikaela was surprise- stricken at his arrival , in pale as if she had seen his archenemy. They have never liked each other. Nervous, she turned back to father and looked worried.
Fred came up to father. “ They have come.” He murmured and left the room.
Father looked sadder upon hearing him and turned to me.
(What’s everyone so weird?)
“ Reggie, give me your sister.”
“Why?” “ You look dirty. You haven’t changed yet.”
“ No worries, son.” Fatherly calm, he was trying to hold himself not to cry. But what was the reason for him to cry?
“ Reggie, my son. I’m sorry.”
He had taken my sister away from me. It was too late to realize that I was letting go of her since I was confused what he meant to say, “ I’m sorry.”
“ Wh-y?” Shit.
I saw my father can no longer control himself. He cried. (When was the last time he did cry) ? Mae wailed all of a sudden , infected by his emotional state. Mikaela wanted me to ease my grip on her. She left us with her, teary-eyed too.
“ What’s happening here, father?” I pleaded. Then, I thought of my mother. Where was she ? Did she know what’s going on in here?
All of a sudden, my brother, John, came nearer with four men in white uniform.
(Who were they? )
“ Father, who are they?”
Father could not look straight in my eyes. He was tearing his hair, turning his back on me.
The three men gently grabbed both my arms. I tried to flinch.
“ Hey, what the fuck are you doing?”
Two of them trussed both my arms ,trying to put me in a straitjacket while the two supporting me not to hold back. I was trying to tussle with them.
“ Father, what’s this?” “ What are they doing to me?” Afraid. I was more confused. I didn’t understand what was happening.
“ Wait!” I shouted at the men. “ Does it mean that I am screwed up?”I was asking my father.
But father finally did look at me, surprised at what I said. He looked at me, worn to a frazzle. Then, he gave a nod at the three men.
“No, father!” “ I am not crazy!” “ Tell them I’m not a nut!”
At this time, I cried in fear. I cried that I might be gone in the head out of confusion.
I was dragged out of the house.The sun was still high up in the sky. I was shouting to my father. There were many onlookers. They were staring at me. They were supposed to be taking a siesta after lunch.I did not understand. I didn’t know what to do. I saw Ate Ning. She was looking at me too as if she was feeling sorry for me. I was trying to move toward her while being taken through the crowd.
“ Ate Ning! What’s happening? Where is mother? “ “ Where is she? Please, call and tell her what these fucking amoebas doing to me? …Please, I don’t understand this.”
She just averted her eyes from me, trying to hold herself, bleary-eyed. I could feel her . I was being escorted up to a white van with the word ambulance printed on its wall. I looked around. I heard some of my neighbors whispering under their breath,
“ He went screwed up right after his mother died. Poor, Reggie! He can’t accept her loss.”
“ What?” I was surprised at what I heard, “ Loss?.” I was dumb-founded. I was trying to grasp their words, clinging to the reality . I could no longer walk . My feet were heavy. I could not muster up enough strength to hold the situation. I was about to fall over. Beads of sweat trickled down my neck. The three men tried to usher me up into the van.
“ Mama!!!” I shouted around.
“ Where are you???”
Then, I burst into tears. I could no longer let the tears well up in my eyes. I could not bear it any longer. I was all perplexed. I didn’t know what this was all about. I wish it were just a nightmare. I wanted to wake up. It could have been a sleep paralysis. I tried to move my fingers as what a book advised I had read before.
Out of nowhere, my aunt, my father’s sister, appeared to talk to me.
“ Tita, what’s happening? I don’t understand. Why was it that they said…loss?”
Then it dawned on me. “M-other died???”
I covered my mouth with my hand , choked to tears, trying to control it while searching for her answer in her face. But she could not even look at me. Instead, she attempted to embrace and muss up my hair.
“ Oh, Reggie. Poor, Reggie!” At this time , she could no longer stand it .
“ Yo- your mother died already. Sh- she died three months ago.”
“ What??? “ My eyes popped out in surprise. Everything seemed stopped moving , darkening like the nightmarish limbo I am afraid to dream about.
Before she got it across to me, the three men in white uniform had to escort me to the van.
“ Wait! Tita! What do you mean Mama died already? I don’t understand!”
The three men tried to drag me away to the van . I shouted to them looming away.
“ Tita! “, “ Wh-at do you mean Mama died???”
I was already put inside the van, trying to talk to them through the peephole.
I saw my father running up to her and hugged her as the ambulance was moving off from our house.